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What an incredible vacation Neil! The villa was more beautiful than the pictures could possibly show. We wanted to write and express our thanks for making the whole experience one to remember. You were so welcoming and your help with everything, from recommendations for the best chow to the most private tico (local) spots was priceless. Thank you for taking care of everything! We felt like kings for a week! Can't wait to return! Pura Vida Neil!

- Griffin and Stephanie, Washington D.C.

Property: Toucan Alley

Date of Stay: Nov 17 2012

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Griffin and Stephanie, Washington D.C.

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Renting a car in Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica is blessed with a superb bus system that operates at a low cost, the easiest way to make the most of your vacation in paradise is to rent a vehicle.

Acquiring a rental car in this country is a simple process—a passport, valid driver’s license and active credit card will do the trick—but there are a few items of note that will assist you in your search for the proper wheels.

First and foremost, you must decide if you want to pick up a rental car near the international airport in San Jose, which is what most people choose and we will email you detailed directions to Dominical or you can wait until after you’ve settled in at one of our vacation rentals in Dominical. If want us to arrange a taxi or mini bus and hold off on a rental car until after arriving in Dominical, we can help put you in contact with a local Car Rental agent.

The drive south from San Jose to Dominical takes approximately three and quarter hours and is fairly straightforward. There are only two highways to travel on, Highway 27 from San Jose to the Jaco exit, and the Pan-American Highway that runs south from Jaco. The Pan-Am Highway provides some of the most spectacular roadside scenery in all of Central America.

Since a good amount of your vacation will be spent in the southern zone where dirt-and-gravel roads easily outnumber paved pathways, we recommend renting a 4x4 vehicle. Can you get by with a two-wheel drive? In most cases, yes, but a 4x4 is a better option in the event of inclement weather or if your party wants to explore deep jungle far off the beaten path.

The price for rental cars varies by season, with the green season, May through November, being the cheapest time of year to purchase a rental. From December through April, prices increase by at least 25 percent.

The Costa Rican government requires all rental cars to have insurance. Even if your credit card company covers you on rentals, you must, at a minimum, buy liability insurance.

While many credit cards offer add-on perks to vehicle insurance, or will even elevate typical liability insurance to full coverage, it’s important to call your company in advance to garner specific details about international car rentals.

Liability insurance costs about $20 per day. With only liability, the deposit on your credit card will range from between $750 to $1,500 depending on the type of vehicle. Toyota is known to require the smallest deposit at $750.

Liability coverage is extremely limited, and you can be charged for any damage that occurs to your rental. For an extra $5 per day, travelers can extend liability coverage to include damage to windows, tires and mirrors.

To avoid concerns about paying for any potential car damage, you can purchase full-coverage insurance for approximately $40 per day. Your credit card deposit also shrinks with full coverage, often to as low as $100 per vehicle.

Lastly, many car rental companies offer complimentary cellphone and GPS service, although these services aren’t always advertised. Road maps are also provided for

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